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Afterglow

Summary:
The in canon tale of the daughter Rose never thought she could have. When my mother found me, fate seemed to link us together. Not only was I the daughter she never dreamed she'd have, I was unusually unappetizing for a human. However, being raised by vampires does not come without conflict. This is my tale about growing up Cullen and finding love in the most unexpected place. The world's largest coven is about to get a whole lot larger!


Notes:
Sorrowfully, I do not own the Twilight saga or any of its characters. They belong to the glorious Stephenie Meyer. But Emmalie is MINE, as is the plot. :)


13. Empty House

Rating 4/5   Word Count 3875   Review this Chapter

The goodbyes were brief and included more advice and warnings than actual goodbyes.

"Emmalie, take your vitamins and avoid going outside please. No more trips to the hospital this month, alright?" she said, pinning back her wavy golden locks with a quick bobby pin, dawning her blue, silk scarf.

"And Ness your grounding is still in full effect, so don't try anything. Understand?" Bella warned, pulling on the ratty, brown overcoat that Alice despised with a purple passion. Despondently, Alice came down the stairs looking as though she was lost. She was wearing her purple pea coat with the big, red buttons and her spiky hair was poking out of the bottom of her little, red cap.

Nana's amber eyes glanced over each of her daughters and for a moment, it looked as if she was going to burst out in tears. I knew it was impossible, but her whole face screamed of sadness.

"Remember, you're to avoid confrontation with the Volturi at all cost. You're going to help with the aftermath, not stop a storm," she recapped, eying each one of her daughters sternly. "Shield up. Eyes open," she prompted, looking at her two youngest. My Mia, who could not handle sentiments of any sort, grabbed the suitcases and went to load them in the car. Bella shifted nervously from one foot to the other, as Nana gazed tenderly at the two. Even I could tell she was rethinking things.

"Maybe, I should call your father-"

"Nooo!" chimed Bella and Alice, waving their hands. "Things will be fine mom, I'm sure." Bella promised confidently.

"Honestly mom, do you want to go whale watching for the sixth time in four years," my Mia argued, returning from warming up the car. Esme smiled at them, then nodded.

"Alright, just promise you'll ring me once you land. No call and your father will be phoned immediately," she threatened, pointing her finger commandingly at Alice.

"The men will be back in less than a week. If all goes well, we'll be back before they even know we're gone." Alice spoke with a certainty only she could possess.

"-And Leah said she'd be fine with camping out here. She'll be over in the morning. Seth said he would also be on the lookout," added Bella, trying to assure Nana. They had covered all bases; the plan, for the most part, seemed watertight. My Mia hugged me tightly for the umpteenth time that night and I couldn't help but feel guilty about our fight prior. Nana flipped on the porch light and ushered her daughters out, granting each a kiss on the cheek and whispered words only they could hear.

Then were gone, leaving Ness and I sitting on the stairs by the front door and Nana staring out the front window, watching the road long after my Mia's car had disappeared into the darkness. For a moment, I wondered if Ness and I were going to have to pull Nana from the window, but she turned on her heels and gave a half-smile.

"Renesmee Carlie Cullen! Why didn't you tell your mother that you're engaged?" she scolded in a faux-sternness, her face radiated pure delight, gone was the sadness a moment prior. When Nana became excited like this she seemed to glow like the stars themselves. I smiled, and looked at my cousin, who was chuckling lightly to herself.

"Because I'm not engaged," she replied simply, looking down at her slippered-feet. We both gave her the ‘yeah right' look. "...well, not officially. I told Jake that I wanted a bigger ring," she joked, cocking her head to the side, her eyes dreamily staring past us at the thought of him.

Nana smiled, knowing that Ness could care less about the number of carrots in a diamond. "No, what I really told him was that I wanted to wait to make it official until my dad came home. Dad would never forgive himself if the first time he left the country since I've been born; I went out and got myself engaged."

Nana walked over and lovingly cupped Nessie's face in her hand and kissed her head. Nana was all smiles now. "Ness, I've never been so proud to be called your grandmother. You've grown up into a beautiful young lady. But remember to look after yourself too. Life's not all about protecting your parents' feelings, believe it or not."

Ness stood to her feet in mild protest.

"Nana, I was thinking about myself. I want all of you here when we announce it. I would not have it any other way," she said, holding her chin up. Nana beamed.

"Alright then, you two, up to bed," she said, just as she did when we were young. But as we climbed the stairs, I realized we were no longer young. Ness was simply playing a part and while I was happy for her, I could not push away the feeling of loss.

That night I slept and woke a dozen times. My dreams were all clouded with bloodless executions and heartless monsters; the unknown faces of the Volturi, faces that I hoped I would never see. I had never hated a single soul; not my real mother who had abandoned me, not the man who beat me in the streets, no one. But those ones I could hate. I just hoped I'd never have to encountered them, because I was sure they would not take kindly to me; the human raised by vampires, numb to werewolves, and so unattached to the mortal world.

I wasn't certain that death even scared me anymore. When life plays you the death card, but you know you can trump it; that one day your family would pull you off death's doorstep to live happily ever after; there is nothing to fear, right?

I was so naive then.

Early the next morning, I woke to the mattress springs gently crunching as Ness arose from the trundle bed. I covered my ears to drown out her alarm clock: a howling wolf. I was still drowsy from the late night, so I tried to drift back to sleep. The sweet autumn draft seeping through the window, reminded me that my favorite season was here. I smiled at that. After about thirty more minutes of restless tossing, I flung off my Egyptian cotton confines, donned my thick, purple robe and trudged down stairs.

In the living room, Nana was hemming Alice's new jeans. Her caramel hair was fixed in a tight ballet bun and she was wearing an informal red dress. She was so focused on her task that, despite her vampire abilities, I was certain she had not seen me.

"You're up early as well," she commented, proving me wrong. I smiled and went over and wrapped her poised shoulders in a hug.

"Morning Nana!"

Her nimble fingers moved faster than any sewing machine, but even then she could afford to look at me. Happily, I skipped to the kitchen to make some breakfast.

"Ness left you some scrambled eggs that Jake didn't finish," Nana called, with a little laugh. Nana was letting Nessie out of her grounding. I was glad; I hated to have her sad. On the stove, I found the left over eggs and zapped them in the microwave for ten seconds. Humming as they heated, I looked about the kitchen. I placed the skillet in the sink to wash later. Unenthusiastically, I took the time to take my meds as well, gulping down four pills in one swallow, something that always earned me a rebuke from my mother.

"Oh and Emmalie....your Popeye called and he wants you to give him a call back," she informed, still working intently. Taking one more sip of water, I went over to the counter where my cell phone was charging and pressed speed dial.

"Popeye?" I asked after being greeted by an obnoxious hello.

In the background I could hear the stampeding of hooves, like rolling thundered; and to accompany it the earsplitting squawks of startled birds. I could only imagine him stopping mid-hunt, wildebeest dashing around him to answer his cell. The mental image had me laughing

"Babe, what's your mother up to?" He curtly asked, the background noises faded and I heard him huff crossly. For a moment, while I tried to get my act together, I was speechless.

"Nothing I know of. Why?" I started innocently, hoping he did not see through the facade.

"Oh, your Uncle Edward is just being a paranoid pain in the ass hemorrhoid. He is so damn sure Bella was lying about something last night on the phone, that he wanted us all to get our asses on the first red-eye flight home," he offered candidly. That was not surprising, Bella was the world's worst liar. I twiddled my golden brown hair as I searched for further lies.

"She's just trying to surprise him by learning to play her lullaby. Don't tell; it's to be a surprise," I justified. Nana Esme's hot glare met me from the other room; she hated lies. I knew for a fact that as soon as the men-folk returned home, she was telling all.

"So how's the African safari," I inquired, trying to change the subject. He laughed freely, his voice booming through the phone.

"It's going well, babe," he blissfully admitted. There was a brief bout of restless silence.

"Uhh Popeye? I got to go," I said not wanting to keep the act up forever.

"Em, wait!" he said before I could disconnect. "You promise you'll call if anything is wrong?"

I hitched my breath; for some reason, that lie seemed larger than all the others.

"Yeah, sure, Popeye," I replied softly, withering with guilt.

"I love you Em, and I miss you so much."

"I miss you too."

"Be good and take care of yourself, baby girl," he said in his fatherly tone.

"Will do," I assured. "Love you." And I hung up, sighing to myself. We met eyes for a moment and cheekily rolled my eyes, already dismissing her unspoken reprove. Slyly, Nana began to recite unfamiliar proverbs about lying, making my guilt grow by the minute. I growled in frustration and went back upstairs.

That night Leah, Ness and I were camped out on our oversized, leather couch. Leah was still a little weary of being in our home but with just Ness and I, she seemed at ease. Nana had moved onto her next outdoor task, digging up the bulbs for winter. It was late, later than my Mia would have allowed me stay up. We had just watched an Audrey Hepburn marathon on the Classic Movie channel, and were now laying there bored out of our minds. Leah seemed relieved that the marathon was over. It was clear from her strained expression that she thought Breakfast at Tiffany's would be an effective way to interrogate an enemy.

"Ness," I pondered looking at the ceiling.

"Hmm?"

"Is Jake going to live forever like you?" I was almost scared to ask the question. She however was not frightened by my question.

"I asked Billy the same thing. He is pretty certain that as long as a werewolf's imprint lives, the wolf will as well. That and as long as he shifts. Everything so far seems to prove his theory. Jake has not aged a day, where as some of the wolves have matured subtlety and are no longer shifting," she shared. "Because of what I am Jake's body will always feel the need to shift, effectively making him immortal as well."Leah nodded to confirm the belief. I sighed in relief.

"I'm glad. I could not imagine you without him," I admitted truthfully. We were all pensive for a moment. The house was dead silent, only the soft creaking of the house and the scraping of branches against the windows caused by the mounting breeze.

"How about you two? When are you going to fall in love?" Ness asked casually, as if it was something that anyone could do. It was almost as if she didn't realize that we weren't all born with our lovers in the next room.

"How ‘bout never?" answered a cenacle Leah. "I've done that before and it landed me in a heap of shit." Ness and I both looked at her sympathetically. "No, loving someone means you have to put yourself out there to be screwed. And I'll never do that again, it's too fucked up. How ‘bout you Em," she asked not liking all the attention.

"I will not fall in love," I said, laughing at the thought of it. "I'm not planning on living long enough to grow my boobs, yet alone find a soulmate," I confessed confidently. Ness sat up and glared at me for saying it.

"Emmalie you know Papa Car will not let you die," she pressed firmly. It wasn't that I doubted that. It was just I wasn't certain if my Mia would let it happen without a fight.

"Ness, I know he'll try, but I'm weak. I doubt I'd survive the turn," I lied, sitting up and curling my knees to my chest.

"Bull. My mother made it. Nana made it. Your mother and father made it," she listed with gusto. Ness was so adamant about happy endings, that the possibility that I might not make it, she had yet to entertain.

"They were hurt, not sick," I reminded her.

"My daddy was sick," she fought determined to convince me. For a moment, I tried to decipher if it was my happy ending that she was so adamant about or hers. Me dyeing would put a damper on her fairy tale perfect life, was that what she was so worked up about?

"Yes, but still, I'm different. I don't just have some virus that they can fight with a vaccine. I'm terminally ill, Ness," I reminded her. She was frustrated with my obstinate stance, so she just glared her brown eyes turing a shad darker.

"How ‘bout we stop talking about biting and shit? Seeing as I'm supposed to protect mortals from just the thing," Leah reminded lightly. I could not help but smile at her.

"Oh you'll never believe what I found," Nessie remembered, changing the subject. I could tell by the gleam in her chocolate eyes that this was going to be good. She sat up and prepared to tell her story.

"Yesterday, Nana asked me to take her old sewing kit down to the basement for her and guess what I found," her voice was so childish. I was excited; there was no telling what you could find in the house of century old vampires and the basement was one of those places. As a child it was a 'no-no room'. I had only been down there once and my mother didn't let me snoop about. The whole third floor was the same way, kind of off limits; Nana and Papa's suite, the guest room (Uncle Edward's old room) and the library were all up there. While I'd never been in it, I was pretty sure it was where some pretty juicy stuff happened. My Uncle Jasper went there when he said he needed to "take care of some things". From it came things like birth certificates, passports and school transcripts.

"Photos," she exclaimed gleefully. Oh this was good. Photos were rare, since Papa Car didn't really approve. Most of them had been destroyed in the past simply to avoid leaving "footprints". It would be dangerous if someone got a hold of them. I knew that Esme was most likely the one to hoard them away. Her family photos were probably too sentimental for her to burn.

She led us through the back of the butler's closet, removed the faux wall, then descended down the narrow spiral stairs to the drafty basement. The place was almost impossible to get to if you didn't know how. Tiptoeing across the cement floor, she pulled out a dusty wooden picture box from an overflowing, yet organized shelf. She was laughing the whole time, with good reason. Upon opening the box, all was confirmed. They were so funny, still in dresses and ties in the fifties and bellbottoms and printed tees in the sixties. My mother and Alice made the coolest looking flower children ever, still it was laughable. The photos from the seventies were, by far, the most humorous. Blackmail material to be sure; my father with side-swiped hair and tight jeans and Edward in the ugliest sweater-vest known to mankind. Carlisle and Esme were the most consistent in dress. That was until the eighties. Back then they all looked like a Fresh Prince rerun. This amused us for hours. Even Leah cracked up as we went through the box.

"Do you think we should tell them when they get home?" I asked mischievously.

"Oh hell no, these need to be preserved and if I know your mom, she'll want them gone. No, first we need to scan and save them to multiple hard drives and back up disks. Then we'll get some really nice frames and hang them up around the house," she suggested. Yes, I knew that my father, if he were not a victim of this prank, would be proud. I took one picture and stuffed it in the back pocket of my jeans.

We stayed up and chatted about everything and nothing well into the night. When Nana came back in, Ness and I faked sleep. She curled at one end of the sofa, I at the other, still in jeans and t-shirts. Eventually, we did go to sleep, although I'm pretty sure Leah left to make a loop around the house.

That night I dreamed about my sweet sixteen, African safaris and a cure for AIDS. I was perfectly happy. My birthday was only five days away and I knew that Alice had been planning it for some time. I was sure the guys were making it home for my party, most likely with a surprise or two. After my party there would be the engagement party for Ness and Jake. Everything in my life was perfect for the time being.

The next morning, Nana roused me with a gentle shake. At the end of the couch Ness was deep asleep, her angel-like features serene. Leah was curled up on the adjacent loveseat, her long body crammed into too small of a space. She looked almost funny. I seriously doubted that she was comfortable, yet she was out. I looked up at Nana after rubbing my heavy lids. Her face was stern, making me wonder what I did this time.

"Emmalie, do you care to explain why I had to open the gate this morning to let in the Fed-Ex man?" The maternal stare down I was receiving could have burned holes through plaster walls. Sleep still had my mind lagging though; I didn't know what she was getting at.

"He must've had some packages?" I tried, knowing it was an incorrect answer.

"Indeed he did. Some with your name on them," she said severely.

"Our infomercial orders!" I said sitting up so fast I was dizzy. I went over to the door where a dozen or so packages sat. Nana looked even more frustrated with my excitement. She stood behind me with her hands on her hips, rolling her eyes.

"Why in God's good name do you need a Super Spider-Vein Concealer? No one in this house needs any of these things. Alice has gone too far this time. Carlisle's going to have to have a talk with her."

"Nana, it's her own money," I disputed sweetly. But she just looked at me with her cross face.

"It isn't the money issue Emma; it is the fact that we have no place to put all this useless junk. If Alice gets a place of her own, she can fill it to the ceiling with junk, but I cannot stand it. I'm already making weekly trips to Good-Will as it is," she tossed her hands into the air and walked up the stairs. I could still hear her ranting about this and that.

I turned to the bubbling laughter from the couch.

"Sounds like Nana is going to have it out with Alice," said an amused Nessie. I smiled. It was seldom that Nana got upset over anything. When she did she was still so sweet, it was funny.

Nessie and I played with our new toys for the rest of the morning, Every time Nana walked by us assembling something else, she would start her ranting all over again. Eventually Ness and I roused Leah who through a silk throw pillow at us telling us to shut up. We, of course, interpreted this as an invitation to pound her with pillows, which we gladly did. She, of course, retaliated with the like. Leah could throw a pillow so hard it left welts. The three of us waged war on one another, laughing carelessly. Suddenly, we all heard Nana's feet skipping down the stairs, so we stopped and tried to look innocent. But when I saw her I could tell something was terribly wrong. Her face looked dead with worry, her brow was furrowed as if deep in thought and she had the phone tightly clutched against her ear. She was giving quiet "yes's" and "no's" to whoever she was talking to. Then she thanked them and shut the phone. Her eyes searched the room frantically and she went to get her coat, throwing it on.

"Your grandfather's office was broken into and vandalized last night. The police believe it to be some form of hate crime, for only his office was broken into. Your papa and uncles all have their phones off; they are probably in flight. Jasper said something about meeting up with Peter in upstate New York; I bet they are heading there before they are catching the flight home. Either way, the chief of police has asked me to come down to the station in Sequim to look at some shots the camera caught of the burglar, see if I recognize him."

She was shaking as she put on her leather driving gloves. Nessie and I went to her side. She was so uneasy whenever the men left home, something like this put her over the edge.

"Do you want us to come with you, Nana?" Nessie offered, putting an arm over her shoulder. She looked appalled at the idea. But she gave Nessie a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"No, love, I think not. I would feel much better with you here at home," she guaranteed, her voice so sure it sounded like a recording. "I cannot even bear the thought of you in the same city with whatever deranged idiot did this."

"Stay inside. I'll call you and tell you what I find out. I promise I'll be back before dark." And with that she stepped out into the fog and cold. Two days ago it was sunny. Forks weather is so fickle, I thought as Nana swerved down our long drive, in Carlisle's black Mercedes.